Crazy for Jesus

I love my job! I love working with kids. My church kids know that they can be totally honest in my classes. I preach honesty. I feel if they are not totally honest then I don’t know what I need to teach them or what sins they need to work on. When I say have you ever lied, they will tell me the last lie they told and why.

At the end of class each week, I give them a challenge. I give them something that I want them to try and do the next week for Jesus and then I ask them about it the following Sunday. Last week I challenged them to do something crazy for Jesus. To do something so out of their comfort zone, without being asked, showing Jesus and then watch what Jesus does.

When I asked today if anyone had taken on the challenge I had a few hands, one 5th grader did 3 loads of laundry for her mom without being asked. She even said her mom asked if she was crazy. I told her she should’ve told her mom, “Crazy for Jesus.”  I got other kids that did stuff like cleaned their rooms without asking, carried over dishes without being told, other amazing things like that.

I have one boy who never ceases to amaze me. He loves Jesus very much and works hard to know Him but is never ashamed to share with us his failures. I asked the question to the class again, “Did anyone else do anything crazy for Jesus?”

He raised his hand and said, “I have to you the truth, I was pretty self-centered last week.”

I told him, “I love your honesty.” I even went on to tell him I was a tad bit self-centered last week, too. I was on vacation. I spent a couple days in Arkansas with my bro-in-law who had open heart surgery. We went to Branson, saw a show and shopped. But I had days where I sat on my computer and wrote, napped, watched movies, a bit self-centered.

We talked for a while about why we get self-centered sometimes and what we could do this next week to change and do something crazy Jesus. We agreed to watch for the opportunities Jesus makes for us and to listen to His voice when He is telling us to do something for others.

How about you? Would you be willing to admit that you were too self-centered to say hello to a stranger, to take a cart back to a cart return for someone at the store, to pick something up that someone dropped, to pray with someone, to call someone, send a card, to volunteer at your church? There are so many things we can do to show Jesus to others.

I challenge you, do something crazy for Jesus this week and then watch how He will bless you!

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Waiting

Waiting. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do. I read a book one time that said it’s all about what you do while you wait that counts. I think about the Miley Cyrus song (yes, I admit to having one of her songs) and it called It’s All About the Climb.

I’m sitting today in the hospital waiting room as my bro-in-law is in open heart surgery. Surgery was scheduled for noon. We got here at 9:30 am. They changed the time to 2:00. We waited then knew we’d wait some more. Then the five hour surgery started.

We are in a private waiting room which limits who we can talk to or visit with but we have family here. We’ve caught up and laughed. We have moments where it goes silent and we are all into our own thoughts and prayers. Wondering if the next news from the surgical assistant will be good news or bad, understanding how quickly all of our lives could change.

I must say, though, I feel very good about the surgery. Maybe that’s my faith in a big God or my own Pollyanna-ness coming out. I’m usually not a Dana Downer so I keep my spirits high and know God is I control.

I’m still “seeing” people and so ready to minister to anyone. I’m in a hospital, I should be able to find lots of people to minister to but it’s funny how God sometimes tells us to be still and know He is God. It seems anyone I come into contract with today is a smile or nod back then nothing. It is God telling me to be still and know He is in control. He wants me to bask in Him, to be ministered by Him, to let Him fill my cup. Today, God wants me to be still in my wait and simply have faith in Him.

When God has you in a place to wait upon Him whether it’s a five hour wait like I have today or a forty year wait like Joshua and Caleb had before they got to go into the Promised Land, be assured, it is about what you do while you wait. And when the words, “Move on,” come out of God’s mouth like they did to Moses, like Moses, we must be ready to go full force with Him.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase.” It is all about the climb. Take the step.

What Would You Grab?

Two recent fires in our neighborhood got me talking to a couple of firemen about our house fire last December. We had been asleep for about an hour with our wood burning stove blazing hot. Tom was woke by the Spirit a little after midnight and from the bed, yelled, “Dana, call 911 the house is on fire.”

We jumped out of bed. I grab the cell phone and called 911 and ran into our youngest son’s bedroom.  I gave him a shake and said, “Get your shoes on and go outside, the house is on fire.”

The lady from 911 is asking me over and over again, “Is everyone out of the house.” I’m running downstairs so I can wake up our other two kids as Tom fights the fire with a fire extinguisher. I wake up the two kids from downstairs and run back up the stairs. Tom is still fighting the fire. I can hear sirens but still no fire trucks or firemen.

I look for my youngest son only to find he has crawled back into bed. The lady on phone is still asking if everyone is out of the house and I’m saying, “I’m trying,” and I go into my youngest son’s room and yell, “Get up and go outside, the house is on fire.”

He said, “Dad said I could go back to bed.”  At this point, I’m ticked that the lady won’t let me get off the phone so I hand the phone to Tom who is still fighting the fire. It didn’t make him happy but I had to get my youngest son awake enough to get him to realize the house really was on fire.

My three kids (my oldest is at college) and I got into our van and started it. It is December and it’s cold. The fire trucks arrive and I see men running into the house with axes and hoses. The kids and I are sitting the van staring at the house as flames are shooting up.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked about what we would grab if the house was on fire or a tornado was coming. I always knew what I’d grab, my Bible, I’ve had it since I was 17. My laptop, contacts or glasses. Purse so I’d have money. Shoes in case you lost everything you’d need a pair. My kids make comments about a beloved stuffed animal. Kindle, game boys, pets.

We’re sitting in the car the second week of December and it’s freezing. One kid came out with no shoes. None of us grabbed a coat and only one grabbed a blanket. I had my glasses on and my purse but no Bible and no laptop. We stared at the house and one of the kids asked, “Where are the dogs?” Another said, “Sam and Joey are still inside.” Our beloved rats, yes, I said rats. They really do make good pets. We had seconds and grabbed nothing. There wasn’t time.

Sam and Joey were downstairs in their cage and our dogs were in the garage. The firemen wouldn’t let us get them out. The air might fuel the fire when the door opened. They also wouldn’t let us back in the house.

Our house was saved but two nights later, the house two houses down from us, caught on fire. They were not as blessed. They lost the house, the contents and their dog.

It really helped me to learn what is really important. It’s not the things we think we can’t live without or even our pets that we love so dearly. The only thing that’s really important is people.

Let’s continue striving to really see people, to love them and show them Jesus. They are what’s important. Loving people, loving Jesus. It’s our church’s mission. It’s my mission. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.” What’s your letter saying?

I See You

I’ve always been the type of person that feels compelled to say hello or smile at people whether I know them or not. It can open the door to really minister to others. I’m also the type of person who wants to grow in Christ so I pray daily for my personal growth but with that prayer comes great opportunities for God to show me my weaknesses.

I was walking through a parking lot the other day with a very spiritual friend. There were a lot of people so I was smiling and saying hi to them as I walked towards the building. Some smiled back, some talked back, and some ignored me. I saw a person sitting in a wheelchair near the door to the building we were going in. I smiled, said hi, and kept walking. My friend was walking a little farther behind me. I turned back to see where my friend was and saw him squatting down talking to the person in the wheelchair.

As I sat inside waiting for my friend, watching him talk to the stranger, I began to ask God what the person in the wheelchair saw in my friend to stop him and talk to him instead of stopping me and talking to me. I said hi to him, I would’ve talked to him. I would’ve liked to have tried to minister to him.

When my friend finally entered the building I asked him, “I said hi to the guy in the wheelchair and you said hi to him so why did he feel comfortable talking to you and not to me? What did he see in you that he didn’t see in me?”

My friend looked at me and said, “It was a lady in a wheelchair not a man.”

It was like being hit with a brick. I did the right thing, I said hi but never really looked at the person and she obviously noticed that.

We walk by hundreds of people every day but I often wonder how many of them we really see them. How many times have you asked someone, “How are you?” never really wanting or having the time to hear the real answer. No wonder everyone walks around pretending everything is going great when their lives are really falling apart.

Are we looking for opportunities to minister or are we going through the motions. Are we so busy with our lives, so caught up in our own world and in our own thoughts that we don’t really look at those around us?

Let’s take the time to look at people and really love on them. I promise, from now on, I will see you!

Don’t Talk Fear, Talk Faith

Fear. It is one of my worst enemies. Fear of not being good enough, Biblical enough, Spiritual enough, fun enough, smart enough, and the big one for me, speaking in front of people.

This is so big for me that as a junior in college, in my expository teaching class, for our final grade I had to teach the class. I could make the class any age and then all I had to do was teach. There were only about fifteen people in the class. I was physically ill. My heart raced, which isn’t exactly the best thing for someone with heart problems. I couldn’t do it. I took an incomplete. After the incomplete I was mentally shook.

About ten years later, I was asked by our preacher’s wife to talk at a ladies retreat about a Bible study that was changing my life drastically. I was scared but immediately knew God wanted me to do it. I was excited. I practiced. I prayed. I could do it. I failed miserably. I remember the next morning in tears, standing with my arms raised, begging God for a word as to why He’d ask me to do this and then allow me to fail. I heard Him talk to me so clearly it was almost scary.  He said two words that I will never forget and I have rejoiced over ever since. He simply said, “You obeyed.” I obeyed.  I may have failed in my eyes, I may have failed in the people’s eyes but to Him, I was obedient.

Because of this fear I have studied fear and prayed about fear. At that point, I knew what God was telling me to do with me life but to do that I had to get a handle on my fear.

Scholars say the Bible has 365 fear not’s, one for each day. I’m an avid believer in Joyce Meyer and her simple phrase, “Do it afraid.” I quote Joshua 1 where God tells Joshue three times to be strong and courageous. Over the years these have really helped me to get in front of masses of kids at VBS, at camp, and not be afraid but put me in front of ten adults and I feel like I could hurl.

But to do what God wants me to do, I have to overcome this. Sounds simple until the senior pastor asks you to get up in front of the congregation. Ugh. Funny, he’s asked before and I’ve let fear overtake me and say no but this time God was telling me to do it. I’m sure He was telling me to do it the other times only I wasn’t listening. Fear was in charge.

Friday, I agree to do go up in front of the congregation and I must admit, the butterflies started immediately. The difference this time, I was excited, I wanted to get up there. I’m telling myself, what’s the worst that can happen? I look like a fool, say something stupid? That’s pretty normal for me, you kinda have to act that way when working with kids.

I’m pumped, I’m excited and I’m petrified. All the old stuff wasn’t working. Joshua’s strong and courageous, do it afraid, 365 fear not’s, nothing. Butterflies present, heart attack immanent. Then Joyce Meyer, God love her, tweets a tweet that was God talking straight to me. She said, “David didn’t look at Goliath and talk about how big and scary he was, David talked about how big his God was. Don’t talk fear, talk faith.”

Whew, blown away. I was focusing on my Goliath and how big and scary it was and how I could overcome it instead of looking up at God and seeing how big He is. Peter was a prime example. He looked at Jesus and got out of the boat. When his eyes were on Jesus, he walked on the water, when he looked around and sunk.

All day Saturday I remembered how big our God was. Did I really think He couldn’t help me sit in front of a congregation of people for ten minutes and talk about an amazing week of VBS? Our God is bigger.

I woke up Sunday nervous which I’m thankful for. Without that, maybe I’d be like Peter and think I’m doing it on my own and sink like a rock. I need some butterflies to remind me this is about God and Him working through me.

I got up there two times, two services. I was scared but had fun. I was nervous but felt okay afterwards. Our God is bigger then any Goliath out there. Join with me, don’t talk fear, talk faith then watch and see what our gynormous God will do through you.

Crazy Hair

At VBS yesterday it was crazy hair day. Yesterday I painted mine orange and blue. I had a blast at VBS with the kids and then needed to run to the mall to get some supplies for my lesson on Thursday and take my son to a youth lunch.

I walked through the mall and found people staring. I tried to ignore it. Then a gal from one of those makeup places at a kiosk approaches me and says, “You look like someone who’d like this,” then hands me a brochure where the lady has blue eye shadow that goes into her hairline and up almost on her forehead. She’s wearing mesh sleeves. Hmm, must be the hair that makes her think I’d want make-up like that.

I head into the store, bought my stuff and felt the need to explain why my hair was like this. “Ah,” the clerk said, finally smiling at me, “That’s so nice you’d do that for the kids.”

I walked back to through the mall towards the food court and a gal yells, “I like the hair.” I turned and said, “Thanks,” although I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if she was serious or being sarcastic. I ordered my food, ate with my son and his friend then headed out the door.

I needed to get my new, used, car inspected and knew once I got home I wouldn’t want to get back out because exhaustion was setting in. I decided to go with the crazy hair. I pulled into the garage and the mechanic who has done many inspections for us looks oddly at me and asks, “What can I do for you?”

I said, “I need an inspection.” Those sitting around stared at me then went back to their magazines. After the guy failed my inspection due to a crack in my windshield wiper I wondered if he was being legit or if he was discriminating against me because of my crazy hair. He must’ve sensed my disbelief because after another guy rang me up and I was getting ready to leave, the guy came back to explain that it was a legitimate reason to fail the car.

I nodded, smiled and left. I got to thinking about all those people who deliberately do crazy stuff to themselves, color their hair bright colors, pierce themselves all over, wear the odd clothes, tats everywhere, and wondered how they walk around everyday with such negative feelings surrounding them. Do the feed on the negative attention because they so desperately need any attention?

Then I thought about how we judge them, how I’ve judged them. I still remember my encounter with the boy with previously gaged ears (in a previous blog) and how Christ taught me to not judge him because of it. Christ ate with sinners, he surrounded himself with sinners. He loved everybody regardless of their past or their present.

It was odd walking around and being treated differently because I was different. Let’s commit to love people no matter what. Love them like Jesus would, you may be the only Jesus they ever meet.

Who Are You Following?

Saturday we spent a wonderful day having lunch with family, seeing friend’s new houses from the Joplin tornado, a wedding, Gma and Gpa, and ice cream with some other friends.

On our way out of town, we decided to stop by the cemetery.  It was close to dusk.  We drove around to where my hubby’s father and brother are buried because we had not seen the tombstone of his brother.  As we get out of the car there were 3 young deer standing close.  We freeze, staring at them.  They were not spooked at all, they just stared while they put some distance between us.

We got our cameras out because it was just an amazing site to see these three young deer in the midst of thousands of graves.

As we walked closer to Randy and Wayne’s gravesite the deer watched us cautiously then out of no where, running full speed, came another young deer.  He ran though the group of three and before any of us knew it, the four were running full speed away from us.

It was cool to see the four and watch them as they ran gracefully, leaping over tombstones, flowers and flags.  It was beautiful for a moment and then they disappeared into a wooded area.  We walked closer to my father-in-law and my brother-in-law’s grave when we heard a loud pow.

I looked at my daughter and said, “Gun shot, one of the deer’s is down.”  It was more likely a firework since it’s so close to the fourth of July but we couldn’t help but wonder.  We heard another pow and then another pow.  We said, “Deer two, deer three.”

The three deer were safe in our presence but because the fourth deer wasn’t sure, he spooked the other three and though he thought he was helping them, they may have followed him to their death.

It makes me ask a simple question; Who am I following?  Who are you following?  Are your friends, or the tv shows or the movies or the books you’re reading leading you down the road of death or are they leading you closer to Christ?

Sometimes, the greatest friends mean well.  Obviously, the fourth deer didn’t plan to run into a hunter having his three fellow deer follow but that’s were they all ended up.

Let’s be cautious with who we are following.  Whether twitter, facebook, movies, tv, books or physical people, make sure they are in love with Jesus and leading you closer to Him.